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Post-Traumatic Stress

Post-Traumatic Stress and Injury Law, What You Should Know

Post-Traumatic Stress is not something talked about enough when it comes to recovering from a car accident. When you are involved in a motor vehicle accident it can be an extremely traumatic event. Throughout our years of experience in this field, we have heard horror stories of the trauma people experience as their physical wellness deteriorates from collision-related injuries. The trauma can leave lasting scars as deep as your physical ones. Such that some people find themselves re-experiencing accidents, and having intrusive thoughts about the accident constantly. If you are experiencing symptoms of this sort you may have sustained post-traumatic stress disorder from the accident you were involved in.

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition by the American Psychological Association lists the following criteria in diagnosing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

A. Exposure to actual or threatened death….. in one (or more) of the following ways:

  1. Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s)
  2. Witnessing, in person, the event(s) as it occurred to others
  3. Learning that the traumatic event(s) occurred to a close family member or close friend…

B. Presence of one (or more) of the following intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event(s) beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred:

  1. Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event(s)
  2. Recurrent distressing dreams in which the content and/or affect of the dream are related to the traumatic event(s)
  3. Dissociative reactions (ex: flashbacks) in which the individual feels or acts as if the traumatic event(s) were recurring
  4. Intense or prolonged psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s)
  5. Marked physiological reactions to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s)

C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by one or both of the following:

  1. Avoidance of or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s)
  2. Avoidance of or efforts to avoid external reminders that arouse distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic events

D. Negative alterations in cognitions and mood associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:

  1. Inability to remember an important aspect of the traumatic event(s) (typically due to dissociative amnesia, and not to other factors such as head injury, alcohol, or drugs).
  2. Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted,” “The world is completely dangerous,” “My whole nervous system is permanently ruined”).
  3. Persistent, distorted cognitions about the cause or consequences of the traumatic event(s) that lead the individual to blame himself/herself or others.
  4. Persistent negative emotional state (e.g., fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame).
  5. Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities.
  6. Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others.
  7. Persistent inability to experience positive emotions (e.g., inability to experience happiness, satisfaction, or loving feelings).

E. Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:

  1. Irritable behaviour and angry outbursts (with little or no provocation), typically expressed as verbal or physical aggression toward people or objects.
  2. Reckless or self-destructive behaviour.
  3. Hypervigilance.
  4. Exaggerated startle response.
  5. Problems with concentration.
  6. Sleep disturbance (e.g., difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep).

F.Duration of the disturbance (Criteria B, C, D and E) is more than 1 month.

G. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

H. The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., medication, alcohol) or another medical condition.

This should give you an idea of what is captured by post-traumatic stress disorder. Though it is important to identify that the only people qualified to diagnose such a disorder are mental health professionals like psychiatrists and psychologists. However, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms it may be a good idea to seek treatment.

How does post-traumatic stress disorder affect my case?

Post-traumatic stress disorder that arises newly from the relevant accident is an injury that can be claimed in the course of your lawsuit. It may be a basis for provision of further treatment that would also be claimed for in the course of the case.

What if I have pre-existing post-traumatic stress disorder?

If you had prior issues with post-traumatic stress disorder you may still be entitled to compensation though this may detract from the value of the claim. Specifically, if the accident made the post-traumatic stress disorder worse you may be able to claim for aggravation of your disorder.

If I suspect I have sustained post-traumatic stress disorder in an accident and would like to pursue a lawsuit in relation to it who should I call?

If you suspect you may be experiencing this sort of injury in addition to seeking treatment you should contact the heavy hitters at James H. Brown & Associates. We have years of expertise in this area, and we see victims of accidents struggling with the ongoing impairment caused by their post-traumatic stress disorder on a regular basis. We are eager to serve you and help you get the compensation you are entitled to for the long-term effects of your traumatic experience. Call us today for your free consultation!